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A Northamptonshire town is "petrified" after ominous chalk markings started appearing on people's homes.
The white marks are commonly associated with burglars and dog thieves who may be identifying a property as a potential target.
Some locals believe the marks, left on several homes in Desborough, could be linked to fake energy salesman they think have been in the area, Northamptonshire Live reports.
Gemma Smallbones, who lives in the Hilltop area of Desborough, says a man arrived at her house claiming to be from energy company Utilita at around 3:10pm on Wednesday, April 21.
"He was telling me that I was paying too much electric on my pay as you go meter," she said.
"I told him that I don't have pay as you go and I pay monthly, then he seemed to be in a rush to go.
"He was acting strangely, stood really close to the pane of glass in my front door like he was looking through it, he didn't step back when I opened the door.
"He made me feel uncomfortable so I just wanted to get rid of him. When he had gone I checked outside and found the chalk marking and this made me feel petrified for my family and my dogs.
"Obviously we had been targeted for something but we don't know what."
Gemma isn't the only one who claims to have had visits from these men, or had their homes marked with chalk.
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"There are lots of other people who had the same person come to their house in the area but only three of us had markings that I know of," Gemma said.
"One of them said her neighbour had CCTV of two men and it wasn't the man that came to my address. But they could be working in gangs."
Another Desborough local, Kristy Clayforth-Lee, who lives on Ironwood Avenue, also noticed the white markings on her door and fence.
"I have no idea when the markings were put up, but it was yesterday at 2:30pm I saw a dodgy bloke hanging around the back of the houses," Kristy said.
Dog snatching fears spark after 'burglar markings' appear outside homes
"I saw a man acting suspiciously wearing black trousers and a black sweatshirt wearing a lanyard and holding something. He had no business being at the rear of the properties, if he was genuine he would be knocking on the front door!
"Also, he avoided looking at me and turned to the side when I tried to get a good look at him at the end of the drive, but I did take note that he wasn't a young man.
"That was at 7am this morning, I found one marking then another later on when I got back from the school run."
Sarah Sharpe from Addison Road has also seen the man who claimed that he worked for Utilita, saying: "He was very persistent and would not leave when I told him I had to leave to take my son to nursery.
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"He then came back twice even though I said I wasn't interested."
Although nobody has witnessed anyone drawing the markings on their houses and fences, locals believe that the fake Utilita men and the markings could be linked.
Northamptonshire Police confirmed they received reports yesterday from a resident on Orchard Close in Desborough, where a brick had been "coloured in with chalk".
They have not received reports of anyone pretending to work for Utilita, but have urged locals to report anything suspicious.
A spokesperson from Utilita said: "We are not aware of anyone pretending to be Utilita salesmen in that area.
"What we would say is that customers should remain vigilant. There are rogue traders who pretend to be energy salesmen, sadly it happens a lot in this industry.
"All Utilita salesmen and engineers have identification cards so if they don't have that, you know they're not legitimate. If you are suspicious of someone who comes to your door, don't give them any personal information, just say no thank you, close the door, and report them."
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